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WordPress won’t save drafts

Written by catpaw

September 11, 2020
Graphic cartoon that reads "Argh I just spent an hour troubleshooting my website. Pain in the ass plugins. Sigh"

Plugins – not always user friendly

I just spent the past 2 hours trying to figure out why my WordPress site won’t save drafts or publish. Arrgh.  Not only that, the entire site kept timing out and showing an error loading.  Troubleshooting WordPress issues can be a major pain, triggering off all kinds of stress. I know it worked a couple days ago. Today, a mess.

Each time I tried to either save a draft or publish an article, the Save Draft or Publish buttons would cycle over and over but never finish the process. If I didn’t click away from the page, the browser would time out to a zero error and the live web site would show  “can’t connect to the server”. So, time to do the tried and true process of elimination. Find the plugin causing all the heartaches. Why a plugin? Had to be. The website hadn’t had a major upgrade but there were a number of plugin updates this week.

I tried disabling all the plugins first, but the same issue popped up. The deactivate button cycled endlessly and the website popped off again. Ok. That didn’t work as planned. Next, logged into the back end of the website via FTP and maneuvered to the plugins folder. I renamed the folder plugins_old.  Suddenlly, I could publish, save and delete posts.  I also noted, the WordPress admin panel was notably faster. Definitely a plugin.

Back to FTP, changed the plugins folder name to the originaland then opened up the folder. I renamed all the individual plugin folders and worked my way through them, enabling them one at a time until I found the culprit. I also tested the plugins panel, deactivating the plugins and reactivating them. No issues arose. I was a bit surprised who the problem child was – Yoast SEO. I’ve used it for nearly 2 years with no issues but this week KABLOOIE!. I re-enabled it, tested and the issue returned. Guess I won’t be using Yoast until the issue is fixed.

Why did it suddenly start up? My guess it’s conflicting with another plugin. I don’t have the patience to go through all the various plugin configurations to track the issue. I’m going to remove Yoast and return to All-in-One for my SEO.

If you find your site suddenly behaving erratically, try these steps:

  • Deactivate all plugins using the plugin menu.
  • Reactivate plugins one at a time, testing the site after each is turned back on.
  • Once you track the culprit, delete it and find an alternative.

If the Plugin menu doesn’t work or you can’t access it,

  • Log into your site with either FTP or your web host’s file manager.
  • Locate public_html -> wp-content.
  • Rename the folder titled plugins. Usually it’s easiest to rename it to plugins_old.
  • Once you do this, log back into your WordPress site and test it. If it works properly, then comes the tedious part.
  • Back to FTP/File Manager rename plugins_old back to plugins.
  • Open the plugins folder and rename every folder, adding _old to each.
  • Try each folder, one at a time, by removing the _old from the name.
  • Return to WP and test. When you find the culprit, delete the folder.

It can be time consuming, depending on how many plugins you have.  But keep at it. Go slow, test and then retest. Note the problem plugin down (so you don’t accidentally re-install it) and find a different plugin or do without. Luckily, there are lots of choices out there so.

Have you had this problem crop up and traced the plugin? I’d be interested in hearing about it. Drop a comment below and let me know.

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